Motherhood — there’s no employee manual, vacation time is never actually given because you never truly stop thinking about them and it’s been said it’s the toughest job you’ll ever love. So why do we do it? What keeps us going?
The answers are fairly simple, but often can be easier said than done.
No matter what the activity is, time away from children isn’t neglecting their needs. In fact, it often means becoming a better mom.
“We need time to interact with adults. Moms spend so much time with our kids, we need time to challenge our minds and our body, need time to reduce stress, we need to remind ourselves that we are teaching and role modeling for our kids, so showing our kids how to be active and why it’s important is crucial,” said Sharise Roberts, a mother of three who moved to Maine a little more than two years ago. “Our kids want to grow up and be just like us some day. We also need to remember that we are a person first before we were a mom — being active allows this to happen.”
And it doesn’t have to take away from being a good spouse, mother, or employee.
“Sometimes my workout is the only 30 minutes of me-time I get in a day. It is necessary for not only my physical health, but my mental health — it’s my stress relief,” said Molly Briggs of Hampden. “As a mom, it is important for my daughter to see me exercise and understand that it’s an important part of being healthy.”
The articles about the benefits moms see when they exercise are seemingly endless, but how do you put it into practice?
The honest answer: Any way you can.
For some, it’s 10 minutes at a time whenever they can fit it in throughout the day.
“Whatever I can do, whenever I can fit it in,” said Steph Young of Alton. “Whether it’s an hour at 5 a.m., 10 minutes three times sporadically throughout the day, or 6 in the evening. Whether it’s at the gym, at home, outside or wherever my kids happened to be at practice. If I can’t find the time for it, I start getting really resentful.”
For others, it’s all about creating a routine or finding an exercise outlet they love. While some — mostly those with older children — make it a priority to get to the gym at least a few times a week.
When you’ve got small children, or multiple kids who need to be chauffeured to and from activities, it can be difficult to make time to hit the gym. That’s when technology lends a hand.
There are hundreds of apps, YouTube videos, and online resources for moms who find themselves with early mornings or late nights to get in their 30 minutes of activity. A few of the most popular include HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), Jillian Michaels 20-Minute Workouts, and Beachbody On Demand.
“Beachbody On-Demand [offers] all kinds of different workouts,” explained Kyla Malbon Harrison of Old Town. “Most are 30 minutes or less, and prevents boredom due to the many different options. All can be done from an iPhone, iPad, etc. You can even download them to your device, so they can be done when a wifi connection isn’t available.”
There is something to be said, however, about getting out of the house, interacting with other grownups and having adult conversation.
“I go to Golds Gym and Les Mills classes,” said Emily McIntosh, a mother of three from Brewer. “I like to socialize and have some time away from Alice [my youngest daughter]. Before that was an option for me, I did workouts at home through fitnessblender.com. Thirty minutes and I was done and felt like I had accomplished something!”
Ashley Thornton, mother of two from Milford, agreed.
“Before it was an option for me to leave, I did Beachbody workouts at home. Now that my kids are a little older I can take classes and enjoy the time I get to talk with others, and I feel more accountable with the group of people I work out with,” she said. “I also noticed that when I am active, we are much more active as a family.”
Teaching children to be accountable for their food choices and activity is much easier when they see their parents participating in healthy behaviors and making nutritious choices.
“[It’s] so important for our kids to see us move our bodies and be healthy,” said Michelle Sturgeon Lounsbury, a mom of two from Boston, Massachusetts. She noted the importance of strength training, but stated that simply walking has immense health benefits and is something everyone can do.
“Walking is amazing for resetting those hormones when under times of stress, lack of sleep, etc., which can increase cravings for sugar,” she said.
And then there’s the moms like Sharisse Roberts, aka Central Maine Roller Derby skater Feliz Bashit.
“It’s something that transcends motherhood — something I did before I was a mom and still continue to do as a mom … it encourages and allows me to display myself as a strong, confident woman and be a great role model for my kids,” she said. “We spend so much time taking care of others, we need to take care of ourselves as it makes us a better mom.”